Tuesday, January 19th marks the birthday of the late, great Janis Joplin. Born in 1943, Joplin rose to rock stardom in the mid-‘60s with her raspy, soulful vocals and colorful demeanor as the front woman of Big Brother and the Holding Company. Unfortunately, her life and career were short-lived due to continuous run-ins with various substances, ultimately passing away from an overdose on October 4th, 1970. Regardless, Joplin’s spirit, presence, and voice will be immortalized in her music. Happy 67th, Janis!
Twenty-nine years ago today, the world lost one of its greatest influences when Lennon was shot four times in the back at the entrance of his apartment building in New York City. His death came one month after the release of his last album Double Fantasy. The album would go on to win a Grammy Award in 1981 for Album of the Year. A toast to John Lennon, his art, messages, ideas and achievements.
Cute. Comical. Slapstick funny. These are just some of the tricks Hollywood abuses and exploits to mask the sexual harassment of women and appeal to the male gaze. And since men control the beat, tenor and tune of the industry, women’s roles are as thin now as they were then. This is the beauty of checking out old flicks—they help us unmask the new tricks of the trade.
Check out this scene from Which Way is Up, a flick seen by many modern bloggers as kids on cable way back in the day, since the film debuted in 1977. It was on regular rotation on the movie channels in the early ‘80s, and probably never registered as sexual harassment—a term that genuinely came into the American lexicon via the Senate’s confirmation hearing of Uncle Tom. Anita Hill stuck her neck out, but the nation’s leaders failed to go the distance, which is unsurprising given the tacit harassment of women in pop culture. The sitting president could not even bring himself to correctly pronounce the word harassment, as most Americans do, instead rebuffing something more akin to “harris-mint”.
The entire career of Breakbeat Era spanned about a year at the end of the last millennium. It was a unique collaboration between drum and bass producers Roni Size and DJ Die, fronted by captivating singer Leonie Laws. Their only album, Ultra-Obscene saw the light of day in 1999, peaking at #31 on the UK charts and, like pretty much every electronic album ever made, it barely registered in North America. Yet, to my mind, it remains not only one of the best drum’n'bass albums ever made, essential for anyone who finds Pendulum remotely interesting, but one of the all-time greatest electronic records in general. This video speaks for itself.